By Paul Hunter
In what has to be Nintendo acknowledging that their 3DS should have had dual-analog nubs from the get-go, the company has announced an expansion Slide Pad attachment just six months into the portable gaming system's lifespan. The expansion fits around the Nintendo 3DS system giving it an additional analog nub on the right side, along with three additional shoulder buttons. Named the "3DS Expansion Slide Pad", the peripheral is expected to hit Japan stores on December 10 and will cost ¥1500 ($19.50).
Given that dual-analog sticks have been the industry norm since the PS1, at least on the home console side, it was rather curious that Nintendo only included a left analog nub when their 3DS system launched this past March. Sony experienced first-hand with their PSP what happens when they include just a single analog nub -- tremendous fan outcry -- and have since added a second analog nub to their upcoming PS Vita next generation portable.
Let's be honest, the Expansion Slide Pad is aesthetically atrocious. It looks bulky, clunky, and gives the rather eloquent 3DS device an uneven look to it. However, looks aside, what really matters is how does it feel, and most hands-on reports have been positive (example -- see IGN editor Richard George's impressions here). Nintendo is holding their cards tight and is currently showcasing the attachment, but no games compatible with the attachment are playable at time of writing.
As mentioned above, the expansion adds three shoulder buttons, an L2, R1, and R2, and utilizes the Nintendo 3DS' existing L1 button. Since the add-on extends out the right, it covers the existing R1 button on the Nintendo 3DS, and adds two new shoulder buttons above the right anaolg stick.
The expansion acts a cradle for the Nintendo 3DS, effectively increasing the size and making it less "portable" overall, which could deter some gamers. You have to wonder if Nintendo is already planning a new, sleeker version of the Nintendo 3DS with the dual-analog sticks and four shoulder buttons built-in.
Rumours of the attachment circulated last month when French gaming website 01net reported about the existence of a new 3DS that would incorporate a right analog stick. Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu confirmed the 3DS add-on earlier this month, and Capcom's Monster Hunter 3G was the first game said to be compatible. Since then, more game have been confirmed to be compatible including Biohazard Revelations (Resident Evil: Revelations outside of Japan), Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble, Dynasty Warriors VS, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
Given that the 3D capabilities of their new handheld has yet to drive large consumer demand you have to wonder if Nintendo is shifting its attention toward dual-analog controls, and effectively beating the PS Vita to the market.
Nintendo has yet to announce whether the 3DS Expansion Slide Pad will come to North American shores.
[This article originally appeared on the Future Shop Tech Blog]